Re/Max says balloon logo used without approval

Kelly Holleran Aug. 14, 2014, 4:33pm

A real estate company claims its rights have been violated after another company utilized its trademark hot air balloon on promotional material in an attempt to attract customers.

Re/Max LLC filed a lawsuit July 25 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division against U.S. Advantage Folders, Guadalupe D. Hemieda and Omar De La Garza. 

In its complaint, Re/Max alleges another company began utilizing its trademark hot air balloon and slogan in advertisements, trying to attract customers.

Re/Max alleges it began receiving complaints from the defendants' customers. The customers informed the company the defendants were using Re/Max trademarks to sell advertising in folders, which the defendants offered free to real estate agents, according to the complaint. The agents would then fill the folders with information and disclosures regarding specific property listings and distribute them to prospective buyers and sellers, the suit states.

The defendants were in effect pretending to be an approved Re/Max vendor, even though Re/Max does not have preferred vendors, the complaint says.

Re/Max claims it informed the defendants their use of Re/Max slogans in their advertising materials were causing confusion. It asked the defendants to stop using its marks on their materials in October 2011, according to the complaint.

Although receiving assurances the defendants would cease their practices, Re/Max found the defendants began to advertise their services using the company's trademarks again in April 2012, the suit states.

The defendants have continually repeated the same actions, which Re/Max labels as infringement, cybersquatting and unfair competition. Due to the defendants' actions, Re/Max has suffered monetary and repetitional damages, the complaint says.

In its complaint, Re/Max accuses the defendants of federal cybersquatting, federal trademark infringement, federal unfair competition, trademark infringement, injury to business reputation, trademark dilution and unfair competition.

Re/Max seeks permanent injunctive relief preventing the defendants from imitating its marks, from using any unauthorized copy of its marks, from falsely claiming to have any affiliation with Re/Max, from engaging in any other activity constituting false advertisement and from assisting another person engaging in similar activities. It also seeks a finding that the defendant are liable for their actions, an order that the defendants transfer Re/Max all domain names either identical to or similar to Re/Max and an order that requires the defendants deliver or destruct all promotions bearing the Re/Max marks. It seeks statutory and exemplary damages and $100,000 for each infringement, plus pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief the court deems just.

Terrell Miller and Mike Seely of Gardere, Wynne and Sewell in Houston will be representing it. Andrea Anderson and Nadya Davis of Holland and Hart in Boulder will serve as counsel.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division case number 4:14-cv-02137.

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it represents only one side of the story.

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